Nigeria’s largest commercial city mulls end to lockdown

The commercial nerve center of Nigeria, Lagos, is working towards reopening the city for business after two weeks of easing its lockdown.

But considering that Lagos State is the epicenter of COVID-19 in the country with 2550 out of the total number of 5959 cases (May 17), is the city ready to fully resume commercial activities?

This is a question the state governor Babajide Sanwoolu tried to answer on Sunday as he gave updates about the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, the state was working to re-open critical sectors of its economy but it was not going to be immediate.

Reopening the Lagos economy is critical for Nigeria considering that it accounts for more than 60 per cent of the country’s manufacturing industry and about 10 per cent of the nation’s $410bn GDP.

The governor said the state would not push the move in a hurry and has tasked the environmental protection agency to ‘re-register’ companies.

According to him, the ‘Register-to-Open’ policy is expected to assess the readiness of businesses that would permitted to operate.

Sanwoolu added that officials of the agency would be visiting companies, religious houses, restaurants as part of the assessment.

He said, “There is a regulation that would be introduced to supervise this move. WE will be coming to their facilities to assess their level of readiness for a future opening.

“I don’t know when that opening will happen in the weeks ahead but we want these businesses to begin to tune themselves to the reality of COVID-19 with respect to how their workspaces look like.”

The governor called on religious organizations and residents to maintain the status quo while the government works towards the reopening.

So far, the lockdown in the city has only been partially effective. While organizations have been compliant, it has been difficult to fully enforce it at the individual level.

Lagos’s economy is largely informal and even though many residents see the need for the lockdown, residents whose livelihoods depend on this sector have been most vocal about the need to reopen the city.

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